Peng, 35, wrote a post on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, alleging sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli. Peng claimed Zhang, 75, forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals following a round of tennis three years ago.
The post was quickly deleted and Peng has since disappeared from social media and public view. Tennis players and officials, led by Women’s Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon, are demanding a full investigation into Peng’s claims as well as assurances of her safety and wellbeing.
Beijing-controlled news agency the Global Times on Saturday posted two videos that show Peng in a restaurant supposedly during the weekend.
In the videos, posted by GT editor Hu Xijin, Peng and her coach and friends sit in the restaurant talking.
At one point, the coach says, “This year is not the same as last year. Our plan [inaudible] is ten tournaments. Tomorrow, isn’t tomorrow November 20?” A woman beside Peng says “21st,” and the coach agrees, “November 21st.” The woman reiterates, “Tomorrow is the 21st,” and the coach again agrees, “November 21st.”
The second video shows Peng entering the restaurant with the date prominently featured on the door, but the actual day smudged out.
Gordon Chang, columnist and the author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” verified the dialogue and noted how strange it is that in the video they discuss the full date when talking about plans.
“You would say ‘tomorrow, the 20th,’ or ‘tomorrow, Saturday,’ but they go out of their way to use the full date,” Chang told Fox News.
Chang also pointed out how strange it was that someone would randomly record a conversation at dinner. The quality of the video makes it difficult to doubt the authenticity, but it is not easy – maybe not even possible – to verify when the video was recorded.
But the fact that Beijing felt the need to send out video shows that international pressure is affecting them, Chang said.
“You’re seeing public opinion around the world shift, so Beijing has to do something,” Chang told Fox News.
He also highlighted that Peng looks like she’s in “good shape” – a positive sign if the video is indeed authentic.
“Normally when China parades people out for these televised confessions, they look like they’ve been under duress, but she looks fine, which means they haven’t put the screws to her,” Chang said. “I suspect they’ll spring her out pretty soon, and she’ll say who knows what, but we’ll find out.”